Video Friday: CES Robots, FIRST Competition, and Power Loader

Check out the coolest robots from the Consumer Electronics Show and more!

2 min read
Video Friday: CES Robots, FIRST Competition, and Power Loader

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ends today in Las Vegas. As usual, there were lots of robots there, so today we bring you some videos from the show, in addition to our regular dose of robot footage, which this week includes a robotic band, FIRST's new game, and a real-life Power Loader. Happy Video Friday!

The Robots of CES 2013

The coolest robot announcement at CES was Lego's new Mindstorms EV3. The new kit is designed to be "more hackable," according to Lego itself. The p-brick now runs Linux, has a slot for memory and a USB port. And it's now easier to connect your Mindstorms projects to Android and iOS devices. I know. I want one too!


iRobot had a big booth at the show, where it was showing off its large assortment of cleaning robots as well as some new products. One of those was RP-VITA, developed in partnership with InTouch Health of Silicon Valley. It's probably the world's most advanced telepresence robot for hospitals. To understand why iRobot is interested in this technology, watch Paul Miller from The Verge talk about RP-VITA with iRobot CEO Colin Angle (starting at 1:54):

Via [ The Verge ]


Window-cleaning robots always appear at CES. But will people actually use them? Would you trust one to clean a high window and not fall on someone's head? I, for one, will wait for the Consumer Reports review before getting one.

Via [ Consumerist ]


Here's another robot I want: the Parrot AR Drone. This year the French firm came up with a new feature that gives the drone more autonomy: GPS. You plug a USB drive into the machine, upload a flight path, and off the drone goes. Or you can fly it manually and collect the GPS coordinates of your mission.


Last but not least, Titanoboa, a giant snake robot made an appearance at CES and swallowed some visitors. Just kiddin' ... But check out this thing in action. And no, it's not for sale.

Via [ CNET ]


And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

NASA's Curiosity landing on Mars was one of the biggest robot stories last year, and we've been keeping track of what the big rover is up to on the Red Planet. Lately, Curiosity has been trying out some of its new tools. The one it used most recently was a rotary brush that allow it to dust off some rocks.


Two words: Power Loader. That's right. This Japanese firm is developing a wearable exoskeleton equipped with two giant robotic arms that you can use to lift heavy stuff or squish aliens.

Via [ DigInfo ]


If you're a student or mentor participating in the FIRST robotics competition, it's that time of the year again: FIRST has unveiled this year's game, called Ultimate Ascent. Teams will have to design robots that can throw flying discs and climb on towers. Check out the animation showing the game's rules:

Via [ FIRST ]


This video went viral this week, but if you haven't seen it already, it shows a German metal band called Compressorhead, which consists of three hydraulic robots. They can play covers of Motorhead, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath. This is what you'd call Heavy Metal.

Thanks, Kogler and Michael!

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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